GALAPAGOS SEA LION SONS ARE MAMA'S BOYS
- popular story, published by National Geographic News (link)
Don't let their hulking mass fool you: Male sea lions are actually mama's boys.
In the first couple of years after birth, sea lion sons seem to be more reliant on their mothers—consuming more milk and sticking closer to home—than sea lion daughters are, according to a study on Galápagos sea lions published in the December issue of the journal Animal Behaviour.
The young males venture out to sea on occasion, but their female counterparts dive for their own food much more often.
The curious thing is, it's not like the young males aren't capable of diving. As one-year-olds, males can dive to the same depth as females (33 feet, or 10 meters, on a typical dive).
It's also not like their mother's milk is always on hand. Sea lion moms frequently leave their growing offspring for days at a time to find food at sea.
And yet, despite all this, for some reason sons are far less likely than daughters to take to the sea and seek out their own food.
"We always saw the [young] males around the colony surfing in tide pools, pulling the tails of marine iguanas, resting, sleeping," said Paolo Piedrahita, a Ph.D. student at Bielefeld University in Germany and the lead author of the study.
"It's amazing. You can see an animal—40 kilograms [88 pounds]—just resting, waiting for mom."
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